San Salvador

San Salvador

San Salvador at sail



The San Salvador under the command of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, arrived at the port we now call San Diego on September 28, 1542, before proceeding further north in search of new trade routes that would link Mexico to Asia and Europe. She was the first recorded European vessel to sail along Southern California, and survey its coastline. Her expeditionaries established a generally friendly first contact with the indigenous peoples of that coast. The San Salvador must be considered the founding ship of San Diego and of the State of California. As such she functions as an “origin symbol” ship for San Diego in much the same way as the Mayflower is the origin symbol ship of New England. Her story represents the beginning of a common heritage for the peoples of California, both past and present.

Recognizing the iconic nature of the San Salvador and her profound importance for the history and cultures of the West Coast of North America, the Maritime Museum of San Diego has built and added San Salvador to the Museum fleet in 2015

The Maritime Museum of San Diego’s construction of the San Salvador, based on painstaking research in the fields of Early Modern Spanish and Portuguese maritime history, and maritime archeology. Experts have scoured volumes of historical narratives, examined all the available images of early-sixteenth-century sailing vessels, and surveyed the remains of contemporary shipwrecks. The belief is, San Salvador is a highly accurate representation of the vessel that arrived at San Diego in 1542. To execute the vision, the Maritime Museum engaged a group of skilled professional boat builders, who are assisted by scores of regular volunteers.

San Salvador functions much more than just a static museum display. Home-ported in San Diego, she also sails along the coast of California, visiting its cities and towns as a floating education platform for California’s school children, and all who come to see her.

As of September 04, 2015, her first official public unveiling, scores of people have visited San Salvador, and experienced first hand, what its like, sailing aboard a Galleon.

San Salvador (replica)
Sparred Length 114’ 8” Tip of bowsprit to tip of boomkin
Length on Deck 75’ 6” Main deck
Length overall 93’ 7” Beak head to aft end of poop
Beam 25’ 1” Maximum hull
Draft 10’ Fully loaded, maximum draft
Displacement 206 long tons, full load waterline
Gross Reg. Tonnage 92.8 tons
Rig 3 Masts (square sails on fore & main masts, lateen rig on mizzen mast,
spritsail on bowsprit)
Sail Area 4,160 sq. ft. (main mast 2,276 sq. ft., fore mast 1,284 sq. ft., mizzen mast
314 sq. ft., spritsail 286 sq. ft.)
Rig Height 82’ 3” Main topmast cap)
Auxiliary Power 2 Diesel engines (John Deere, 280 hp each)

  • Photographer Jerry Soto’s comprehensive photographic record of San Salvador Construction at Spanish Landing Park. Click Here to view.
  • Port of San Diego San Salvador Replica Ceremonial Keel Laying. Click Here to view.
  • 09-04-2015 – San Salvador replica leads tall ships parade.
    FOX News — A full-scale replica of the San Salvador, the ship that Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed into San Diego Bay in 1542, is scheduled to make its first major public appearance Friday when it leads a parade of tall ships to the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Click Here for Video and story.
  • 07-29-2015 – Replica San Salvador Ship Christened After 4-Year Construction Project.
    NBC SAN DIEGO — After a four-year construction project, the replica ship San Salvador hit water on Wednesday afternoon. Click Here for Video and story.
  • 02-21-2013 – San Salvador 60 Percent Complete After Two Years Of Construction.
    KPBS SAN DIEGO — Just across from the San Diego airport, a parking lot is celebrating a major milestone: the two-year anniversary of when it was transformed into a 16th century shipyard. Click Here for Video and story.
  • 04-18-2012 – Maritime Museum Rebuilds 500-Year-Old Spanish Ship.
    KPBS SAN DIEGO — Historically accurate replica of Cabrillo’s San Salvador will sail to celebrate discovery of San Diego. Click Here for Video and story.
  • 05-17-2011 – San Salvador Replica construction has begun.
    The build-site at Spanish Landing will be open to the public starting June 24th, 2011, where one can observe this historic event. Click Here for Video.
Pre-Launch Build & Volunteer Staff Party 4-11-2015

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San Salvador paper models.

v1 is an Advanced Difficulty Level, and v2 is a Medium Difficulty Level.
San Salvador paper models are FREE of charge by the Maritime Museum of San Diego, this model will help teach young and old alike the details of sixteenth-century Spanish galleons. The paper model is made from a series of digital design sheets that are downloaded over the internet and printed out on paper from an ink-jet or color laser printer.

San Salvador posters.
  • Available for download, 3 beautifully designed San Salvador posters depicting the design, building, and voyage to California. Click here to download.

San Salvador Sailing Adventure

A 4 hour sail aboard the San Salvador

The San Salvador is a replica of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s ship that arrived at the port we now call San Diego on September 28, 1542.

These 4 hour Sailing Adventures are for people who love history, and sailing. Very few people have sailed aboard Galleons of the sixteenth century and these day sails will offer the public a chance to be aboard the magnificent galleon, the San Salvador.

Click Here for Tickets

San Salvador Sailing Adventure

Once (sometimes twice) a year we do a multi-day sailing adventure. If you would like to be notified about when one becomes avaiable, fill out the form below, and we will contact you.

If you would like to be added to the contact list for our next adventure
Click Here

Click here for pictures from our first tour!